Health Insurance After Divorce

Divorce is complicated and stressful by nature. Besides the emotional toll it takes, divorce can also leave you struggling with a backlog of administrative tasks to get your affairs in order. The stress of divorce can even be harmful to your health.

For this reason and more, keeping your health insurance during and after your divorce is important. Read on to find out more about your health insurance options after divorce.

1. COBRA Health Insurance

COBRA, or the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, provides continued group health benefits for workers and their families who have lost their benefits for a variety of reasons, from job loss to divorce. If you divorced your spouse but share health care coverage, you will receive coverage for 36 months with COBRA.

To qualify, your ex-spouse must work at a company with at least 20 employees. To receive coverage from COBRA, you must apply within 60 days of your divorce if you want to keep the coverage you already had. You will be required to pay the policy’s full cost without any employer contributions from your ex’s employer like you may have received previously.

This can be the most expensive option for many people, which is why you must do your research before choosing a health insurance plan.

2. Employer Health Insurance Plan

You should check to see if you are eligible for your employer’s health insurance plan. This plan can be way more affordable than COBRA, especially if your employer pays part of your premiums.

You usually have to wait for a specific time of the year to join employer health insurance, but losing your previous coverage due to a divorce may trigger a special enrollment period for you to enroll, depending on your employer’s plan.

3. Affordable Care Act / Obamacare Health Plan

You have two months (or 60 days) after your divorce to get coverage under the Affordable Care Act, which they refer to as a Special Enrollment Period. After these 60 days are over, you will not be able to enroll until the next open enrollment period.

Remember the following five key points when you are reviewing potential health insurance plans.

Metal Level

Obamacare divides insured people into four metal levels: bronze, silver, gold, or platinum. These levels don’t determine the quality of care but the allocation of costs in your plan.

Bronze plans are the cheapest. As monthly costs increase and the plans progress, the benefits become more comprehensive, and deductibles are lower.


If you have a doctor that you would like to continue seeing, make sure they are in the company network of the plan you choose. You should be able to determine this either online or through the insurance company’s customer service phone line.


The deductible is the amount you must spend on any medical care before the health insurance company covers your bills. You should know your policy’s deductible in case any surprise medical bills arise.


Make sure you can afford your monthly payments, or your provider will cancel your health insurance plan.


In some states, you could receive a fine if you do not have health insurance. If health insurance is required by law, you will owe the government a flat fee or a percentage of your income, whichever is greater. This nationwide requirement ended in most states in 2019.

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Short-Term Health Insurance

Short-term health insurance is an affordable option for many, but it is also restrictive. You won’t be eligible if you have certain pre-existing conditions; in fact, most plans have broad exclusions for all pre-existing conditions.

Temporary insurance usually spans anywhere from up to 6 to 12 months, depending on your state of residence. But it can start as soon as the day after you apply. Some states, however, limit them to three months, and others don’t allow short-term plans at all.

Legal Situations that Can Affect Your Health Insurance after Divorce

The divorce process may not be exactly the same for everyone. Let’s review several legal scenarios and how it affects your health insurance.

What if You’re Separated but Not Divorced?

If you’re not living together, you can stay on your spouse’s insurance. One spouse usually can’t remove their partner from a health insurance plan until after the divorce is final.

If you and your spouse agree to a legal separation, the laws will vary depending on your insurance company and the state you live in. Your plan may or may not see separation as equal to divorce. You should always talk to an attorney for more information and guidance about your specific situation.

Health Insurance in a Divorce Settlement

A spouse may cover premiums for you and your children as part of the settlement, which is why you should discuss health insurance in your divorce settlement.

If You’re Divorced and Don’t Lose Your Health Insurance

If you are the primary insured party, you may not be able to choose a new health insurance plan. You might qualify to choose a new plan because someone else left your existing plan or because your household income changed, but you’ll have to confirm this with your specific insurance company.

Can a Judge Order Changes to Your Health Coverage?

A court may order one spouse to pay the other’s premiums, but it is not always mandatory.

Other FAQs

Can You Keep Your Spouse on Your Health Insurance after Divorce?

Simply put, no. There is a workaround for this, however. If spouses decide to separate, both spouses can remain on the same health insurance policy if they do not finalize a divorce and choose to legally separate instead.

What About Your Child’s Health Insurance after Divorce?

Your specific family situation, your child’s age, your state laws, and other determining factors will influence the outcome of your child’s health insurance plan. Make sure to speak with an attorney if you have any questions or concerns.

Final Thoughts

It is crucial that you seriously consider your health insurance options when you are in the process of a divorce. You’ll need to do a bit of research, so hiring a Washington State Bar certified divorce lawyer may help take the stress off your plate.

Many things are painful during and after a divorce – don’t let your health insurance become one of them!

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Jarrod Hays is the founder of Skyview Law. He is licensed to practice law in Washington State and the Western District of Washington State Federal Court.

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